Prisoners?

Corrections: Apologies to Major Stephen Caton as I had misspelt his name in my original post, likely due to lack of sleep and the short time frame for posting this article.

When commenting on the popular online blog LimeyinBermuda.com, Major Stephen Caton, the public relations officer for the Bermuda Regiment can be quoted as suggesting “having presented to all of the Recruits … I can assure you … that none see themselves prisoners.”

When looking up the definition of the word prisoner in the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, which is defined as “a person who is confined in prison or kept in custody, especially as the result of legal process. “, where custody is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as “The state of being detained or held under guard”, could any individual presently in the regiment feel restricted via similar means?

Are our youth being subjected to treatment likened to that which they consider themselves prisoners? At least one can guarantee that Major Caton is wrong, as this writer is one who sees himself as a prisoner as he presently serves his time in this years 2007 recruit camp.

Being required by law to join regiment is little different from being imprisoned or enslaved. As defined by the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, a slave is “a person entirely under the domination of some influence or person”. While attending recruit camp, are recruits not placed under the custody of their superiors and kept under guard unable to leave or resign by their own will?

Does refusal to follow the influence of those superiors not result in punishments of up to 28 days in regimental lockup for each offense, potentially jeopardizing external life and forcing an individual to sacrifice their career? Do attempts to leave or not appear as required result in punishment legally bound through the Defense Act of 1965 which could result in a prison sentence and criminal record that could effectively disable an individual from attaining employment or traveling for the rest of their lifetime?

What of the fear propaganda where recruits are constantly reminded that if they don’t follow orders they shall be locked up? Like how Corporals who run each barracks read out months old articles describing the prison sentences received for those who chose to not fulfill their legally bound requirement. Along with posting them as a reminder that those who step out of line will be punished. Is this not an example of a person who is confined as a result of legal process?

What of the 18 hour days during recruit camp? Where individuals are forced to constantly run and perform tasks as demanded by their superiors. Are they not forced to ask permission to eat, sleep, attend the bathroom? Are they not confined to their rooms after lights out and forced to pee in a bag should they need to urinate between the hours of 11pm and 5:30am? Sleep often falling shy of these hours due to extra duties that will result in further punishment?

Could 18 hour days at a rate of less then $4.00 an hour, which is less then the minimum wage of most developed nations not be likened to slave wages? Especially when Bermuda has now been defined as the richest country in the world based upon GDP per capita? Why should individuals be forced to give up weeks of good wages in exchange for meager ones in the face of Bermuda’s continually rising cost of living?

Why is discrimination acceptable on the basis of age and sex not just in the process of drafting individuals, but also in the regiment itself? Is it not true that women can have braided designs in their hair while men are forced to maintain a 1/4 inch length and are absolutely restricted from having any form of design or pattern in their hair?

How can turning a blind eye to the policy of a random draft be any different then when white people turned a blind eye to slavery in our past? Is the excuse of “it’s a tradition, it has been done for years” a reasonable one? Was it for slavery? Is the excuse of “we won’t have enough men to fill our ranks” no different then the argument of “we won’t have enough blacks to fill our plantation”? The plantations moved on to find other more reasonable means of filling their ranks, why can’t the regiment?

Do you hold the attitude that “it’s not happening to me so why should I worry”? In that case, what makes you any different then those complacent whites who stood back in the days of slavery and segregation to allow it to happen simply because they were not the targets of injustice?

Is Major Caton correct when he suggests that no recruits see themselves as prisoners? Perhaps. The very consideration may rest on the definition of the word. One thing is clear. Freedom, at least for now, is limited to those who rest outside the gates of Warwick camp.

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6 thoughts on “Prisoners?

  1. Nice piece Denis, but you might want to be a little more careful relaying the details(although in fairness, you’ve probably done a better job than we’d expect from the RG). The guy’s name is CATON not Canton as has been pointed out before. If it was me you were referring to in your piece I am NOT doing my time in recruit camp this year although I did do it not too long ago at all and susequently completed my full sentence as of even less long ago.

  2. Denis,
    Looks like the Limey may have cleared it up for me as he interpreted your sentence as you being the one in Regiment. Please disregard my last post although you may want to correct the Major’s name.

  3. Hi Cus
    Didn’t know they had got you. The two weeks will pass quick but the “hurry up and wait” and the “show up and do nothing” weekly over the next few years will kill you.
    What will realy piss you off is when you findout how some people were able to get out of serving.

  4. Thank you Private Pitcher for your observations.
    Please note that my posts on Limey in Bermuda contained the correct spelling of my last name and also made clear that my comments were personal and not in my capacity as Public Relations Officer.
    I was very interested to read your viewpoint and welcome the same. I trust that you’ll find the second week of Recruit Camp and your subsequent service less incarcerating.
    Notwithstanding your dissenting view as a prisoner, I hope that you have enjoyed the interesting and new experiences of your first week. I look forward to meeting you; your are a soldier with a lot to offer and your country is the better for it.
    I am not sure if your questions were rhetorical or directed at me and for which answers would be appreciated. For matters of clarity and fact, I have provided some answers below.
    “Does refusal to follow the influence of those superiors not result in punishments of up to 28 days in regimental lockup for each offense, potentially jeaprodizing (sic) external life and forcing an individual to sacrafice (sic) their career?”
    (The Defence Act 1965 (the “Act”) , Part III – Military Offences refers.)
    No. Refusing to follow the influence of superiors is not a military offence. Misguided, perhaps, but not an offence. Perhaps your reference is to Insubordinate Behaviour, Disobedience, Disobedience to Standing Orders, Failure to Perform Military Duties or another recognized offence as defined in the Second Schedule of the Act. Commission of an offence rarely results in 28 days’ camp detention; this is the Commanding Officer’s highest custodial sentence “if the unit is embodied or in camp” and is used judiciously and sparingly. During my service, I recall only a handful of such sentences and these were meted out to those committing a serious offence.
    The Act is clear on the procedures which are followed prior to the imposition of a punishment, including any custodial sentence. A solider upon whom the Commanding Officer imposes any punishment has gone through investigation and consideration by his sub unit commander and then again by the Commanding Officer.
    I appreciate that an employer would not look favourably on their employee who has committed any offence, military or otherwise. Nor should they, in my opinion. In my reading of the Act, the employer might commit an offense if their action, say terminating the employee, was “prejudiced by reason of his undergoing military training”. Of course, nobody wants a bad employee.
    “Do attempts to leave or not appear as required result in punishment legally bound through the Defense Act of 1965 which could result in a prison sentence and criminal record that could effectively disable an individual from attaining employment or travelling for the rest of their lifetime?”
    No, not necessarily. Failure to perform military duties and absence without leave are offences. Such offences would ordinarily be dealt with by the Regiment and, provided the Regiment is not embodied, a soldier convicted of the same “shall not be deemed to have been convicted of a criminal offence”.
    Taking “prison sentence” to be broader in definition than your first week of service in Recruit Camp, and now referring to a custodial term imposed by a Magistrate, the Act says “the commanding officer may, after investigating any charge brought in accordance with this section, remand any person so charged for prosecution before a court of summary jurisdiction and such court of summary jurisdiction shall thereafter deal with the matter de novo.” It follows that a soldier “who is found guilty of any of the military offences set out in the Second Schedule shall be liable on conviction by a court of summary jurisdiction to a fine of $2,250 or to imprisonment
    for 3 months or to both such fine and imprisonment.”
    For the period of incarceration, I would anticipate that one’s travels would be limited and employment attainment reduced; thereafter I cannot speak to a potential employer’s perception. Travel would presumably be unrestricted per the provisions above.
    “What of the fear propoganda (sic) where recruits are constantly reminded that if they don’t follow orders they shall be locked up? Like how Corporals who run each barracks read ou (sic) months old articles describing the prison sentences recieved (sic) for those who chose to not fullfill (sic) their legally bound requirement. Along with posting them as a reminder that those who step out of line will be punished. Is this not an example of a person who is confined as a result of legal process?”
    Useful information, I’d say, as opposed to “fear propoganda (sic)”; we’ll differ there, for sure, as we will on your feeling of confinement.
    “What of the 18 hour days during recruit camp? Where individuals are forced to constantly run and perform tasks as demanded by their superiors. Are they not forced to ask permission to eat, sleep, attend the bathroom? Are they not confined to their rooms after lights out and forced to pee in a bag should they need to urinate between the hours of 11pm and 5:30am? Sleep often falling shy of these hours due to extra duties that will result in further punishment?”
    Like many hard working Bermudians, I have 18 hour days in my civilian life too. Yes the Regiment is disciplined, with protocols, practices, parameters and sometime, punishment. Ps all over the place, if you will.
    “Could 18 hour days at a rate of less then $4.00 an hour, which is less then the minimum wage of most developed nations not be likened to slave wages? Especially when Bermuda has now been defined as the richest country in the world based upon GDP per capita? Why should individuals be forced to give up weeks of good wages in exchange for meager ones in the face of Bermuda’s continually rising cost of living?”
    Again facts and clarity are useful here. Employers have duties under the Act not to prejudice their employees for their military training and service. While I suspect salaried employees have a advantage over a sole proprietor or an hourly cash wage earner, there are hardship concessions provided for under the Act, in addition to the provision for allowances and additional remuneration in exceptional cases.
    Further, I am pleased to note that many employers value their employees’ service to their country, not only encouraging their employees’ commitment but recognizing the same in their remuneration policies. No one in the Regiment would wish to economically disadvantage a soldier. If you are aware of any such cases, please bring them to the immediate attention of your sub unit commander.
    I hope the $1,000 cash you receive for Recruit Camp 2007 is not only seen in dollar terms, but in recognition of your valuable service. Meanwhile, you will be pleased to know that the Commanding Officer, Paymaster and his team have performed a significant and thorough review of the Regiment’s pay scales.
    “Why is discrimination acceptable on the basis of age and sex not just in the process of drafting individuals, but also in the regiment itself? Is it not true that women can have braided designs in their hair while men are forced to maintain a 1/4 inch length and are absolutely restricted from having any form of design or pattern in their hair?“
    The Regiment has dress regulations for servicewomen and servicemen, although there are few distinctions. All uniformed services have similar considerations. I am currently unable to comment on matters of hair.
    How can turning a blind eye to the policy of a random draft be any different then when white people turned a blind eye to slavery in our past? Is the excuse of “it’s a tradition, it has been done for years” a reasonable one? Was it for slavery? Is the excuse of “we won’t have enough men to fill our ranks” no different then the arguement (sic) of “we won’t have enough blacks to fill our plantation”? The plantations moved on to find other more reasonable means of filling their ranks, why can’t the regiment?
    My personal views on conscription have been published elsewhere. Of course, the laws of conscription apply to all shades of green. I am not one to link disingenuously conscription and slavery as other correspondents, yet, as you learned the other evening during my presentation on Bermuda’s Military History, I am pleased to make the link less tenuous and less inflammatory: The Militia Act of 1691 saw no distinction between conscripting both free men and slaves.
    Do you hold the attitude that “it’s not happening to me so why should I worry”? In that case, what makes you any different then those complacent whites who stood back in the days of slavery and segregation to allow it to happen simply because they were not the targets of injustice?
    Please let me know if the above is addressed to me personally and I will be happy to respond to the same.
    “Is Major Canton (sic) correct when he suggests that no recruits see themselves as prisoners? Perhaps. The very consideration may rest on the definition of the word. One thing is clear. Freedom, at least for now, is limited to those who rest outside the gates of Warwick camp.”
    Correct, perhaps, I freely remain,
    Major Caton
    (Appreciating that you may not have access to a computer over the next week, please forgive any breaches of blog protocol for posting the same response on Limey’s thread.)

  5. bermuda, regiment, pee, bag

    I think I can be of assistance here: A British MP has surprised Regiment officials by suggesting recruits have to pee in plastic bags after lights out. The MP, Andrew Mackinlay, has been asking questions about the Regiment for years,…

  6. I’d just like to say that I DO feel like a prisoner when I AM FORCED to attend warwick camp. No jumping around questions with fancy answers will change this. The FACT still remains that we conscripted and the british army (for which we are a part) doesn’t use the draft. It makes no sence to me and that stupid defence act which is in my opinion outdated offers me no real answer. I could write more about how I feel on this subject but i’ll chose not to as it would take up to much of my REAL LIFE outside the Bermuda Toy Army. Bravo to the guy that wrote this keep it up we need more people saying more then “i just dont like it”. DOWN WITH THE DRAFT

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